In the 2011 NBA Playoffs, an unheralded young point guard played a pivotal role in the Dallas Mavericks' road to an NBA Championship. He was unknown, unexpected and, from the second round of the playoffs and beyond, unstoppable.
Now, meet his college basketball replica.
In continuation of what can only be referred to as a Kemba Walker-like run through the tournament phase of the NCAA season, the Louisville Cardinals have earned an improbable Elite Eight berth. This follows Louisville's equally unlikely Big East Championship win, a feat that has one constant with their NCAA Tournament success: Peyton Siva's brilliance.
For those who feel this is another yet piece about an overrated player who really hasn't done that much to help his team win, you're horribly mistaken. Since the postseason has begun, Siva is averaging 11.7 points, 5.4 assists, 4.3 rebounds and two steals. While the stat line is impressive, none of those statistics can measure his contributions on the court.
As a Marquette fan, it was painful to watch Siva pick the Golden Eagles elite-level defense apart. His quickness was unstoppable, decision-making impeccable and he always seemed to remain a step ahead of the competition.
Can Peyton Siva cut it at the NBA level?
None of that has changed.
Much like Walker, Siva has led his team on an unexpected run through the postseason. Also similar to Walker, this success has led to a Big East title and an Elite Eight berth. As previously touched upon, however, it's Barea and not Walker who Siva bares the greatest relation to.
This, in turn, beckons the question: can Peyton Siva succeed at the NBA level?
While it's near-impossible to predict the NBA success of any draft prospect, it's clear that Siva has the makings of a game-changing point guard. After all, quickness and intelligence are transferable from any level of play.
While Siva lacks a consistent jump shot, is undersized for his position and can be prone to turnovers, his leadership, character and court vision are three characteristics every great point guard possesses. When paired with an ability to disrupt passing lanes, a non-stop motor and above-average free throw shooting, it becomes clear that the kid has a level of talent that can reach an undisclosed of level of success in the NBA.
But is he a Chris Paul or a Sebastian Telfair?
Unlike Telfair, Siva took the route of playing under Rick Pitino and developing an NBA-ready game. While he's only a junior, the NBA is certainly a possibility for a kid who is a win away from the Final Four—a win that would have to come against fellow underdog Florida.
If Peyton Siva can complete the "Kemba," thus taking Louisville to an NCAA Tournament victory and giving Rick Pitino his second career NCAA Championship, it will be hard to exclude him from the draft conversation. If he comes up short, he'll just have to do what he's always done: the unthinkable.
Welcome to the world, Peyton Siva; it's now in your hands.